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4-H Science of Agriculture Challenge: Biodiesel Team

So the reason why we wanted to participate
in this 4-H Science of Agriculture competition was because we have a farm. And on the farm, we
have diesel powered tractors, and agriculture does go through a lot of fuel, especially when
you’re plowing big fields. And so biodiesel can be less pollutant for the environment,
and that matters since you can fully replace it from conventional diesel. By doing research
and trying different methods of making the diesel we were able to basically figure out
the most optimal way of making the diesel efficiently. I have been teaching for 25 years
and right now I teach 5th grade, but I have taught earth science and life science as well.
Science is a passion of mine and always has been. And it’s filtered down to my children
Brian and Anna, and this is something that I thought would be very beneficial to continue
their learning of alternative energy. So for the two experiments that I did for both the
PH and the temperature of the water, I was looking for if biodiesel would be less pollutant
and that would be done by not as much of a change in the PH of the water because water
is normally at 7, so if it fluctuates a lot more than that, it would be an indication that
it’s very acidic, which diesel is known to be. And as far as temperature is concerned, I was
mainly looking at if the engine would be heating up more or if it would be cooler running or
if it would not change at all. So I am doing an experiment where I take ethanol, biodiesel
and kerosene and I have it in a homemade calorimeter and I am seeing how hot the water will be
heated by the fuels. Then my second experiment is where I have a soup can with a coffee filter
on it and I capture the pollutants that each of them gives off. So I have been in 4-H for
8 years now and what I really like about this challenge is that I can see how the fuels
are actually impacting the environment and how we can improve them to be better. I want
to go into engineering in mechanical as well as agricultural engineering, and this challenge
specifically really helped with the agricultural engineering aspect of it. Being an alumni
of 4-H myself I knew that 4-H was very hand- on. By doing the Science of Agriculture challenge, it
brings out all of the experiments, the hands-on learning that will eventually be able to be
applied to the real world.

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